In the northwest San Juan mountains resides a lonely tower. Chimney Rock (also sometimes called Chimney Peak) sits among great peaks and formations such as Courthouse Mountain,
Precipice Peak, and the spires of Cimarron Ridge. While driving up through the Cimarron Valley, Chimney Rock looms over the valley, guarding the entrance to Owl Creek Pass. In 2004, Alan, Jackie, and climbing partner, Barry, first noticed this mountain and vowed to return and climb it. Chimney Rock is not a pleasant or easy mountain so climbers should be wary.
The standard 5.6 route is run-out, loose, mostly unprotectable, and has extreme rockfall danger. It was agreed that had we known what we know now, we would have never attempted this climb. However, it was quite an adventure. So follow along as
we climb one of the most difficult mountains in Colorado and end up getting more than we bargained for.
BTW: If anyone retrieves a red Camalot (#1) from deep in a crack on one of the middle pitches, it belongs to Jackie and Alan. If you wish to return it, contact us through the email link on the home page. Thank you.
Early in the morning, Alan and Jackie begin their approach while Chimney Rock looms in the distance. Photo by Barry Raven
Barry and Jackie bushwhack up the steep slope toward the cliffs below the base of the tower.
Alan ropes up while ascending the ramparts and cliffs below the tower. This section was a solo class 5 nightmare of loose unprotectable rock. Photo by Barry Raven
At the top of the ramparts, Alan solo traverses the cliffs below the start of the climb of Chimney Rock. Our approach to the base took four hours. Photo by Barry Raven
Alan finishes the traverse which ended just below the start of the technical climbing. Photo by Barry Raven
Barry leads the first pitch of Chimney Rock after Alan unsuccessfully attempted the same section. About 6 ft above Barry's head near the chockstone, Alan previously pulled off one of those nice looking holds, took a lead fall, and fell on the ledge Barry is standing on. Alan sat on the ledge with a sprained ankle for seven hours while Jackie and Barry finished the climb.
Jackie makes her move on the same pitch.
Jackie takes a breather during one of the four pitches of the route. The ascent crack is to the left. Photo by Barry Raven
Jackie sets up a belay station at one of the final pitches. Photo by Barry Raven
Near the summit, Jackie appears happy to be out of the bowling alley of loose rock. Photo by Barry Raven
Barry and Jackie pose for the tradtional summit photo. Time to start rappeling the route. Photo by Barry Raven
Jackie does one of the final rappels for the day. A total of five rappels were needed to descend the mountain, including two rappels during a descent of the approach. Total time on the mountain was 14 hours.
The climbing route on the south face crack (5.6, III). Photo and route drawing by Barry Raven
Click the photo for Jackie and Barry's SummitPost.org page which has comprehensive information on climbing Chimney Rock. Good luck on your Chimney Rock climb!